Ascent of Palen Mountains High Point on 2015-01-02

Climber: James Morehouse

Date:Friday, January 2, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Palen Mountains High Point
    Elevation:3848 ft / 1172 m

Ascent Trip Report

I followed the DPS A route directions. The road in from 177 was as described, very sandy. I engaged four wheel drive to maintain traction, a two wheel drive vehicle could get stuck easily. However, that was the worst of it, as there were no rocky sections and we were able to camp on a very nice flat, sandy spot right at the TH. We got hiking up the closed road at seven a.m. and the below freezing temperatures moderated as the sun began warming things up to a balmy 40 degrees or so. This road started out sandy, but quickly became rockier and was washed out several places along the way that would have made driving it a challenge (some felt it was OK to do so, even though there was a wilderness sign at the TH forbidding it. What is wrong with people?) After 8.2 miles we came to a bend in the road where it headed uphill to an old mine. This is were I left my hiking partner (she had a sore knee) and the road and dropped into a rocky wash. From here to the summit and back was over very difficult, confusing terrain. Once in the main wash leading to the summit I took the left fork, which turned out to be a mistake. It brought me not to the summit ridge, but to a ridge separating the two forks, and I had to continue to climb this ridge some distance before reaching the summit ridge, and from there it was a rocky climb to the summit. On the way back, I descended the right gully, which went better than the other one, however it was still slow going because of the constant boulder hopping and dry fall down climbing. While one may avoid some or even most of the cat's claw, it would be nearly impossible to miss it all, as it seems to be the plant of choice in those gullies! Once down and back on the road the going was quite easy again, but I still had roughly two hours of hiking with a head lamp. Since the elevation is so low here, hiking this peak should only be attempted in the winter months, which keep the temperatures cool, but the days are short.
Summary Total Data
    Round-Trip Distance:22.5 mi / 36.2 km
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Distance:11.3 mi / 18.1 km
    Route:DPS A route
Descent Statistics
    Distance:11.3 mi / 18.1 km
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Morehouse
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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